After Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s character abruptly left Los Angeles during an October 2021 episode of Fox’s 9-1-1 amid difficult postpartum depression struggles, the actress is ready to return and share an impactful story.
“I knew when we started the storyline where it was going to end up. And taking the break to go have a real baby and then come back to it was strange and a little daunting,” Hewitt, 43, told Entertainment Tonight on Friday, March 25. “It was really important to us to tell the real story. PPD, postpartum depression, has been done on other shows, it’s something that’s out there. It’s something that people talk about. But it’s usually a lighter version of what that looks like. Or the diagnosis is lighter than what Maddie has dealt with.”
She continued: “Hers is a really extreme version of what postpartum can cause in someone’s life, heightened by having a baby in a pandemic on the show and everything else that she’s been through as a character. So I was really excited and proud of the show and proud of Fox for really getting in there and telling this story for all the women who are out there that might be suffering from this at the moment or have had that in the past, because it’s a real thing.”
The Texas native’s character, Maddie Kendall, seemingly disappeared from town shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Jee-Yun. Maddie’s absence left the infant in the hands of father — and Maddie’s boyfriend — paramedic Howie “Chimney” Han (Kenneth Choi). Maddie explained at the time that Jee-Yun was not safe with her as she battled postpartum depression.
Maddie’s absence from the Fox drama coincided with Hewitt’s own maternity leave after she gave birth to son Aiden in September 2021. Hewitt — who also shares daughter Autumn, 8, and son Atticus, 6, with husband Brian Hallisay — praised the show for helping her with her own postpartum return to work.
“But what made this part interesting is having to go back to work with a four-and-a-half-month-old, five-month-old baby,” the Client List alum told ET. “I was so very much in my own postpartum journey. Having to play Maddie in the middle of hers, which is a little bit different than mine, but having to do that every day — it was really hard. But it was also very cathartic and really interesting. I feel it kind of helped me in my own journey, sort of pushed through faster and be able to have a place to put it and to understand all those things that we could go through as women.”
The Party of Five alum returned to set in January, sharing a series of Instagram snaps when she reunited with her costars.
“Oh Maddie how I have missed you,” she captioned her social media upload at the time. “Since you’ve been gone we both have changed. But coming back together feels good. See you guys in March. @911onfox.”
Hewitt joined the cast of 9-1-1 during its second season in 2019, playing a former nurse turned 9-1-1 operator. Her character had just relocated to California, where her estranged brother (played by Oliver Stark) worked as a firefighter.
“[My daughter was] studying emergency situations in school the other day and she was like, ‘Oh, if you get in an emergency situation, just call my mommy. She’s not going to help you. She’s going to send someone else to do it,’ and I was like, ‘Thanks a lot, babe,’” the Can’t Hardly Wait actress told Us Weekly in August 2019 of joining the series. “She asked me, ‘How come you always answer the phone, but you don’t actually help anyone?’”
9-1-1 airs Mondays on Fox at 8 p.m. ET.
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